Twilight (2008)

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Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Written by Melissa Rosenberg

Rated PG-13

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan
Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen
Billy Burke as Charlie Swan
Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Anna Kendrick as Jessica Stanley
Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen
Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen
Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale
Cam Gigandet as James
Rachelle Lafevre as Victoria
Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black
Edi Gathegi as Laurent
Michael Welch as Mike Newton
Kellan Lutz as Emmet Cullen

Vampires have been a fixture in pop culture, especially the movies, for years. Stephenie Meyer made the evening creatures accessible to the Young Adult crowd with her wildly popular series of books. The first book, simply called Twilight, is probably the best. They are easy reading, and Meyer is clearly a good storyteller, if not a great writer.

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a sullen, 17-year-old, moves from Arizona to Washington state to live with her estranged father (Billy Burke). Her mother (Sarah Clarke) is hitting the road with her new husband, a minor league baseball player. Bella resolves her senior year would be a good time to catch up with her father.

The gray, dreary weather of Forks, Washington, is a culture shock from the dry, hot, sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Even more jarring is Bella’s instant attraction to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the brooding, good-looking classmate, who is apparently repulsed by Bella. Of course, we learn Edward is a vampire, and Bella’s scent is so intoxicating to him that he must coach himself to practice self-control. Yes, Bella is the forbidden fruit.

Edward has supernatural abilities, like saving Bella from being struck by a speeding van in the school parking lot. He assures her it was an adrenaline rush, but Bella insists there is something he’s not telling her. So when brooding Edward, with his ever-incredulous good looks, confesses his real age – in a modestly budgeted smorgasbord of glittering special effects – Bella doesn’t seem surprise. And, really, why should be surprised? This is, after all, the Endless Love of teen vampire films.

Stewart has received negative press for delivering a lackluster performance in this film. This is unfair. Meyer wrote the character as being dull, lifeless, and unabashedly codependent on a male. Pattinson, on the other hand, handles the brooding quite well, but I kept thinking of his more memorable breakthrough, as the doomed Cedric Diggory in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Meyer’s young vampires bemoan their circumstances, and Twilight makes My So-Called Life seem positively cheery. Yet, it’s shamelessly entertaining.

If the target audience is reading this review, there are no such things as spoilers. Edward and the rest of his Cullen crew are the protagonists, and we get a hunky antagonist in the character of James (Cam Gigandet). I wonder if Meyer’s husband ever felt slighted by his wife’s obvious proclivity for hunky, underage (so to speak) bloodsuckers. Oh bother.

I teetered back and forth between a 2½ star or 3 star rating. Hardwicke directs the material successfully. The performances are about as good as they can be, and I found the film to be a faithful representation of the source material. There was even a hint of suspense when I knew the eventual outcome. I guess that means the film is recommended.

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